Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Stealing

1. Which living person do you admire the most, and why?
Especially now, the Obamas, who led this country with grace and dignity despite overwhelming odds.  When I see what has happened in the last month, I miss them more than ever.  I used to be proud of our president.  The one we have now is an international laughing stock.  Also Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who runs the foundatioan in Kenya that saves orphaned elephants.

2. When were you the happiest?
Probably any time when we lived in a place where I had lots of friends around and I had friends to hang out with.  The five years working with the Lamplighters were some of my favorite too.

3. Besides property, automobile or furniture, what is the most expensive thing you have bought?
Hmmm....I guess my computer.

4. What is your most treasured possession?
I've answered this question several times.  This is it:

This is Delicate pooh, and I have told his story here

5. Where would you like to live?
If I were rich, I'd live in or near Santa Barbara so we could be closer to the grandchildren, but I'm happy living in Davis.  I have no desire to move to some exotic location.

6. Who would you get to play you in a film of your life?
Rosie O'Donnell or Melissa McCarthy

7. What is your favorite book?
This question again?  I always answer either "The Mother Tongue" by Bill Bryson or "Prince of Tides."  I might add the "Outlander" series now too.

8. What is your most unappealing habit?
Pick a habit, any habit. 

9. Twitter or Facebook? (Or if both share the differences in your opinion.)
I never really got into Twitter until recently (figuring it was self preservation to find out what the president was saying). I kinda sorta enjoy it, but I've been on Facebook for about 9 years and have made many casual friends there.

10. What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
I never do costumes.  Last time I dressed in a costume was more than 40 years ago.  (I dressed as our friend Andrij Hornjatkewyc.)

11. What is your earliest memory?
I have two, and I don't know which is earliest.  When my sister was a baby, I wanted to find out what it was like to be in a crib drinking from a bottle.  I would have been 4.  I also have snippets of memory of a train trip I took with my mother to Pasadena.  I was probably younger than 4.

12. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Any over the top sundae or milk shake from Fenton's Creamery.  Fortunately I rarely get there.

13. What do you owe your parents?
My sense of humor, my love of music, my love of San Francisco, and, from my father, my curly hair, from my mother my love of books.

14. To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Sigh.  This question again.  Peggy .... for whatever it was that I did.

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My family.

16. What does love feel like to you?
Comfy as a pair of old slippers,  no drama.

17. What was the best kiss of your life?
No one kiss stands out.

18. Which words or phrases do you overuse?
They all have four letters.

19. What's the worst job you have done?
I worked for an attorney here in this town for awhile.  He was a most annoying man and the day I quit was one of the happiest of my life.  He later asked if I could come in and work for one day while he was in court.  He asked me to stop by his house to get instructions.  Turns out he wanted me to pretend to work and keep track of who talked instead of working while he was out of the office.  I said no.  He never called me again and I was happier for it.

20. If you could edit your past, what would you change?
One thing I wish I could change was advice I got when I was choosing courses in my first semester at UC Berkeley.  My roommate told me that Speech-1 was an "easy A" and I should take that.  So I did.  For someone terrified of public speaking, and somene who loves to write, taking that class set me up for failure from the beginning.  I might have finished college if I had taken an English class instead.

21. What is the closest you have come to death?
I almost drowned at a lake when I was a little kid.  I remember the lifeguard carrying me out to shore.

22. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising five kids to adulthood, seeing what good people they are, really liking them, and considering them some of my best friends.  Writing the Lamplighters history ranks up there too.

23. When did you cry last?
As I have said many times, I cry easily (my grandmother used to call me a "spitzmuller").  I cry at Hallmark commercials.  I cry if anything emotional comes on TV, even something as simple as a contestant winning a game show. 

24. How do you relax?
In my recliner, in front of the TV, with a laptop at my side to check e-mail.

25. What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A different resident in the White House

26. What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
People you think are going to be your friends forever, won't.  (Char is hanging in there, though.)  Jobs that you give your all to, thinking you will be there forever, turn on you.  Never give up yourself for someone or something unless you really want

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ego Boost

If you're ever feeling low, or wondering if you're worthwhile or not, try belonging to Facebook on your birthday!

As of this writing more than 200 people have wished me a happy birthday on one post and another couple dozen or more on another, some sent personal messages on Facebook, plus all those people who wished me a happy birthday on yesterday's journal entry and individual messages not on a thread that I have lost count of

Thank you ALL!!!  It's quite a humbling experience.  I feel very loved.

I also had texts and phone calls from all of my kids, which is the most special, of course.  Ned was calling with a report about his recent trip to Tokyo.  A good friend had frequent flyer miles, so was able to treat him to the plane fare.  He was there for three days and after he got home posted highlights from the trip on Facebook.  He's such an amazing writer!  It was a real culture experience for him.  His last international experience was going to Jamaica for Christmas in 2015 and the contrast between the Jamaicans and the Japanese was like night and day.  Having spent a formative year in Brasil, Ned is a very huggy person, which the Japanese are not at all.  He was also amused that his host kept telling him not to take photos of such-and-such because it would be rude...Ned was thinking of Japanese tourists in this country with their ubiquitous cameras taking pictures of everything

Anyway, it was wonderful hearing about his experiences, and I'm so glad he had the chance to take the trip and renew acquaintance with his friend.

As birthdays go, it was pretty low key.  It was grey and rainy (my favorite weather--thank you, God!) so I just hunkered down, mostly here at the computer.  A problem with the new president is that there is so much to talk about that he is keeping all of the "fake news" TV commentators  busy 24/7, just about.  What with that and newspaper articles posted to Facebook, which link to other news articles and before you know it a couple of hours have passed.

I know Ned told me to turn off all media for the next four years, but it's like a train wreck that is so horrible you can't stop looking at it.

I thought about going to Atria, but by the time I was able to pull myself away from the computer it was 3:30 and too late, really, for the usual visit.

In the evening there was, of course, a show to review.  First we had to get there (to Sacramento).  Ned's sister-in-law had left this note on Facebook:  If you don't really have to go to Sac or Tahoe tonight, don't. Every street leading to I-80 east on-ramp is backed up for miles. And that's just to get ON the freeway. I've never seen it that bad.

Undaunted, we went anyway and it was as bad as she predicted, but we were smart.  Instead of getting in the middle of the slowly moving parking lot that was I-80, we took the frontage road and blissfully sped past all those slowly moving cars.  Until we got to the backup of cars getting onto the freeway.  By that time traffic on the freeway as lightening up a bit and we were stuck motionless, with a long parade of cars ahead of us and nowhere to turn around. on the 2-lane road.  It was 7:30, the show started at 8 and I was sure we'd never get there.

(It was raining too.)

But Walt hung in there and, miraculously we arrived at the theater with more than 5 minutes to spare.

It was Lizzie: The Lizzie Borden Rock Musical, which I figured would be a good companion to the other musical we will see in a few weeks, a musical about the Donner Party.

(Do playwrights and lyricists need to get new material???)

The words "rock musical" made me cringe and I was sure that I would not like it and made sure I had ear plugs with me, but I was surprised to discover that I liked it after all.  It was maybe a bit more "rock" than I would have liked, but the four actresses were wonderful and when they weren't rocking out at full volume, there were some very lovely numbers, including two duets which were absolutely beautiful because of the blend of the two singers' voices.

I realized that I knew nothing of Lizzie Borden but the famous verse

Lizzie Borden took an axe
Gave her mother 40 wacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father 41.

I didn't know whether she was jailed or executed or what.  As it turns out, she was acquitted after an hour of jury deliberation.

But I have my work cut out for me today.  Before I write the two reviews, I want to do research on the life of Lizzie Borden, who was apparently sexually abused by her father and had a lesbian relationship with her maid, among other things.

There was a champagne reception after the show and we stopped by briefly.  Walt looked around and said "do you think we are the oldest here?"  ABSOLUTELY!  I caught a glimpse of myself, bent over, padded with my jacket and avoir du poid and wondered if I had "CRITIC" blinking on my forehead.  We were obviously not the intended audience for this show!

It was a nice birthday and Walt is taking me out for dinner tonight for an "official" celebration.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Spring Forward

It's one of my favorite couple of weeks in Davis, when all the trees as bursting forth into blossom.  It's just starting now.  In another week, the entire F Street, from 14th Street down to 1st Street will be  under an arbor of these white blossoms.  I asked one year what kind of trees they are, and someone told me, but of course I have forgotten now.  But I do love driving under the arches on my way downtown.

I took my mother out for a drive one year, when the blossoms were at their peak and she seemed not even to notice.  These days she doesn't notice beautiful gardens or wonderful blossoms; she just concentrates on green leaves on trees.  Spring is something else I can no longer share with her.
Today I had lunch with my friend Kathy, with whom I lunch once a month.  We had both watched Trump's first press conference earlier in the morning and both of us were just about speechless.  As Chris Matthews said, "Kellyanne Conway had it right...she called it 'epic.'"

I'm wondering how Trump is feeling about FOX news tonight.  FOX, whom he described as the only non-FAKE news service, tore him to shreds for his lies.  The man seems incapable of telling the truth.  He continually insists he won by "the largest electoral college margin in history," though it has been shown over and over again that this is not true (Clinton, Obama, and Bush-1 all got higher votes)

Over and over he twisted questions he didn't want to answer into some sort of an attack on Hillary Clinton -- he's still campaigning against her.

He insisted that he wanted to meet with Congressman Cummings, whom he said was all excited about meeting with him, but that Cummings cancelled their appointment -- "Maybe Chuck Schumer thought it would be bad politics for him to meet with me." Congressman Cummings says the meeting was never scheduled.

He insists there was a "very smooth" roll out of the travel ban, television news reports to the contrary.  

He's been asked three times ow, that I have seen, what he is going to do about the increase in anti-semitic and ethnic violence and he has yet to answer the question except to say he is the least anti-semitic person you'll ever meet and then to talk about his wonderful family and how any blacks voted for him.

Try to follow the logic of his answers about Russia.  It will make your head spin.

Re his 90 minute attack on the media, Trump admitted that "the leaks are real, but the news is fake."  Huh?  All those leaks that he loved so much when they were directed at Hillary are now terrible and though during the campaign he invited Russia to hack Russia's server, and said that he "loved Wikileaks," he now wants to do an investigation and arrest the people who are leaking information.
He is the man who cries wolf every time he opens his mouth and one of these days he's going to have a very important message to deliver and nobody will believe him because they have become so used to his lies.

BUT, the worst part of it all came after the conference.  I had to leave the house, so I listened to the end of it in the car on the way to meet Kathy at the restaurant.  When it was over, the radio host opened the phones to comments from listeners and one after the other they came on raving about what a wonderful showing it had been for Trump and how he was turning out to be exactly the president they hoped he'd be.  

It was enough to make my head explode.

We got our anger and frustration out before we ordered lunch and then got caught up on each other's lives once again, since there was nothing left to say about this very dangerous man who is now the most powerful man in the world.

But on the other hand....


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Horror Stories

I'm finding out what a "support group" is all about.  The Senior Center has a dementia workshop on the third Wednesday of every month.  I was pretty good about going every month, but as the issues with my mother subsided (i.e., I had all the answers and knew what issues had no solutions), I got lax about going.  It would think about it and then realize that the third Wednesday had passed.  Again.  But I put it on my calendar this month.

I had no "issues" this month, but decided to go anyway, and it was great.  Seven people, two of whom were new to me.  Those two were still struggling with specific issues and we got into a discussion of local doctors ... who was good and who was someone who should be avoided at all costs.

I am someone who has loved "doctor shows" from the first time I saw one on TV.  It was probably Ben Casey and I've followed most of them from Ben Casey through St. Elsewhere, M*A*S*H, Marcus Welby and today's shows like Code Black and Chicago Med. I loved Hawkeye Pierce and McDreamy and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Dr. McCoy and even Doogie Howser

I learned that doctors are always warm, caring, knowledgeable and miracle workers.  Even Dr. House, who may nearly kill a patient who came in for a simple rash, always cures them in the end, after using every machine and test available in the hospital.  House would be my last choice of a doctor!  I always wanted Dr. Welby to be my doctor.  A guy who seems to have nothing to do but stand around waiting for a call so he could make a house call.

Apparently people who work in gerontology never watched doctor shows.  The horror stories about uncaring or incompetent doctors is staggering.  Doctors who refuse to give tests for dementia, even simple tests (this was true not only of my mother but of others as well), doctors who will sign a release for someone who clearly has dementia to drive a car (or, if Congress is to be believed, buy a gun), doctors who listen to the patient with dementia rather than his or her caregivers to decide what is the proper course of action to take or medication to prescribe...and the disastrous results that follow. 

(There is one particular doctor who is detested by the leaders of the group, who think he is the worst thing to happen to Davis.  I am always embarrassed and never admit that I used to work for him in my my medical transcriptionist days.)

But the nicest thing about being back in the group today was just listening to everyone who is dealing with the same sorts of problems.  I am the only one with a loved on who is NOT living at home, so I have it easier than most of the others.

And to prove it, I went to Atria to visit my mother when I left the meeting.  It had been my plan to have lunch with her, but there was no parking to be had for love nor money, so I stopped a couple of blocks away and had lunch at a Panda Express.  I couldn't decide between their orange chicken and their walnut shrimp, so I ordered a "plate" instead of a bowl and got both, knowing that it was going to be WAY too much food for me.  And it was.  I had a whole lunch left over to bring home to Walt.

By the time I got back to Atria, there was (thank you, Gilbert) a real parking place.  I had bought her a little box of Sees candy for Valentine's day and between the two of us we ate the whole thing (4 pieces each).  
This was one of her better days.  Amazingly, she didn't ask me once what I was doing tonight, and, after the zen that comes from the dementia meeting, I just let her lead the conversation and went wherever she seemed to need to go.

We did talk a lot about her laundry (I had returned her clean clothes today) and how amazed she was to learn that I've been doing it for her for nearly four years and that she doesn't pay me to do it.
In the evening there was Jeopardy and the nightly shows.

After Walt went to bed, I sat up to watch the late night shows.  I record both Colbert and The Daily Show and then watch the opening monologues of both.  Rarely do I watch either show all the way thought.

Tonight Trevor Noah said he had finally figured out the problem with Trump.  He's the oldest person to ever be inaugurated as President and he (Noah) realized he's just a grumpy old man.  Noah was very funny as he portrayed Trump in all sorts of situations where he was reacting like a grumpy old man and went out of his way to say often that Trump was  OLD....VERY OLD

Trump is 70.

I will turn 74 tomorrow and I am feeling the need to go lie down now, I think.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Staff of Life

No bread?
No car?
No problem.

Walt went off to Berkeley for his dental appointment and I was at home without any bread.  Actually I haven't had any bread in several days and have made do with tortillas and other things, but today I had a hankering for bread.  So I just hauled out the bread maker and made a loaf of bread (thanks Neil Rubenking!).  It wasn't any special bread, just your plain run of the mill white bread...but is there a better aroma to come home to than freshly baking bread?

I was remembering the days when I made all of our bread.  Seems impossible to me now.  But back in the day, Char, Pat and I used to go to a specialty store where we bought all sorts of different flours (I used to love cracked wheat) and other ingredients and we really made most of our own bread.   (I remember that there was a character on a soap opera in those days who seemed to be making bread every time she was on the screen--and she NEVER got the hang of kneading bread dough.  It drove me nuts.)

I made bread at least twice a week, sometimes more and spent a lot of time bend over the breadboard kneading dough (which I don't do any more).  I heard once that the quickest way to get the gluten active was to throw the dough down on the board as hard as possible.  We had a shy sheltie in those years and he would run and hide whenever I started throwing the dough around.

(Later, I got my wonderful Kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook and that made the whole process easier and I didn't have to scare the dog any more.)

My staple was Cuban Water bread, which just had yeast, water, sugar, salt and flour, but I used potato water and it turned out huge, probably because you started it in a cold oven and so it continued to rise as it began to bake.  It also had a fabulous flavor.

There was also a quick loaf bread which rose faster because it used more yeast, and it had a different flavor because the sweet element in it was honey, rather than regular sugar.

Refrigerator potato bread was great because you could keep the dough in the fridge for up to 10 days and use it for loaf bread or for rolls.

But I think my favorite was Whole Wheat Spiced bread because it got its flavor from cumin, one of my favorite spices.

Char got tired of making turkey stuffing, so developed a recipe for "stuffing bread" where all you had to do was cut it up and add liquid and stuff the turkey--this was before you could buy pre-seasoned bread cubes in the supermarket.

We also got into sourdough.  I don't remember how that happened, but probably through Char, since she lived in Alaska for awhile.  But we all had bowls of starter in our refrigerators (I kept mine for over 10 years until a helpful visiting foreign student decided to clean my refrigerator one day while I was out and proudly told me she had thrown out "that terrible smelling bowl in the back of the fridge.")

You have to be dedicated to keep a starter going, using part of it for your new bread, replenishing it and then letting that ferment so you can use it again.  I made lots of sourdough breads, but we also made things like scones (very best scones I ever had out of Engand were my sourdough scones).

Of course sourdough pancakes were a favorite.  Whenever we went camping, Char brought the sourdough starter so we could make pancakes in the morning.  We would go hunting huckleberries in the afternoon and the kids would spend the afternoon doing "quality control" (tossing out the leaves and the bad berries).  At night Char would sleep with the starter so it kept warm and was ready to become pancakes in the morning.  And then we cooked the pancakes on the Coleman stove and ate them while sitting around the fire pit (then it was time to go huckleberry hunting again for the next morning).  Some of my best memories include those sourdough blueberry pancakes.

I rarely bake bread now because it's just Walt and me and if I make bread, he eats a slice and I finish the loaf, which is exactly what I shouldn't do.  But it sure was nice always having homemade bread in the house.

At that time we also had a stove where one of the burners was sunken so that you could keep a pot simmering on a burner down below all the others.  It allowed me to have homemade soup going most of the time.  A great place to put leftover vegetables, bones, etc.

I guess nobody makes that sort of stuff any more, at least not enough to still build stoves like that.  It's easier to buy take-out, I guess.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Valentne

As I sit here in my office writing this entry, Walt is busy collecting all of the garbage from the house and dog poop from the yard so that he can take our 3 garbage cans (we are into mega-recycling in this town) down to the curb for garbage pick-up tomorrow.

Walt's a good guy and while I mention him in this journal now and then, I never actually write about him, so I thought that on this Valentine's day, I would do just that.
I knew I had someone special the day we brought Jeri home from the hospital.  We arrived at our apartment and he parked the car and told me to wait, then he went inside and when I went upstairs holding our precious new baby, the house was full of pink roses and there was a record of music box music playing lullabies in the background.

How he loved that baby!


It warms the cockles of my heart that he and Jeri have always had a close relationship.  I'm jealous of her.  I would like to have been that close to my own father.

But Walt was always a great Dad, whether coaching Little League or going to Indian Guides, helping make a Pinewood Derby car for the Boy Scouts, working backstage at Sunshine Children's Theater, or just reading "The Night Before Christmas" every Christmas eve.

There is nobody who doesn't like Walt.  He'll do any favor anyone asks, happily, without complaint.  Right now he's on the board for Citizens Who Care for the Elderly, and has been for many years, helping raise money for people who can give caregivers in Yolo County a break for an hour or two now and then.  He does his own respite work with our friend who is in a wheelchair so that his wife can get out a couple of times a month.

He's so patient with my difficulties with my mother.  He has been there and knows how difficult this is for me at times.  His mother didn't have dementia, but she was quite incapacitated by her blindness and inability to move much.  He went to Santa Barbara as often as he could, and after a particularly bad time, he stayed there for a couple of weeks, sleeping on her little half-couch and making sure she got her "Boost and cheese" every day, in an attempt to keep her weight up.

He has been an amazing husband.  Sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve him.  When he retired, he said he had decided to take over the job of keeping the kitchen clean, and every night after dinner, he takes the huge mess I have made preparing it and makes the counters (or as much of the counters that don't store stuff permanently) all clean again.

He has done his own laundry ever since the day I washed his Air Force uniform (when he was in the reserves, back in the 60s) with something red and didn't realize that his uniform was pink because he left before the sun came up.  He discovered it when he got to the base.  After that, he took over doing his own laundry and we have both been better for it!

He has put up with all of crazy part-time jobs and my weird projects, especially 10 years of hosting foreign students -- and what experiences we had with those 70 kids from around the world!
He is my chauffeur and attends all these plays with me.  He understand my terror of big trucks (a terror which developed for absolutely no reason one night in 1986 and has not left me) and he is careful either NOT to pass a large truck or to pass it two lanes over or to go slow and stay behind the truck.  He puts up with my intermittent gasps when my mind sees imminent highway danger where there is none.
He drove me to and from Logos every Thursday for four years, since my knee won't let me ride a bike any more and the City of Davis won't let me park for four hours.  (Of course the beer he got every Thursday before he picked me up, at the pub around the corner from the book store, might have been an incentive!)

We have traveled the world together and he's always been very encouraging, helping me make it just a few more steps when I'm ready to give up, and waiting for me to rest when I just can't go any farther.  I have seen more of the world than I ever dreamed I would....and walked farther than I dreamed possible.

I love the relationship he has with the dogs, particularly Polly.  He is "her person" and she prefers to sleep in his lap at night.  If he walks by the chair where she is sleeping without stopping to pet her, she jumps up and barks and barks and barks until he comes back and does so.  He has liked all of our dogs, but Polly is the first dog who chose him as her person and she is so cute with him.

He keeps me supplied with mini ice cream bars at night while we are watching TV after dinner.  We both love to watch Jeopardy together.

He is kind and loving and does much more than his share around here and I love him for it.  I don't exactly sit and eat bon bons every day, but I definitely don't do a fraction of what he does.
He's a very special man and I don't tell him that often enough.  So now I have.  Happy Valentine's day, dear!

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Few Tears

My friend Gilbert Russak died when the Lamplighters were doing a run of Yeomen of the Guard.  The timing was ironic, since the character of Jack Point in that show was one of the two for which Gilbert was most noted (KoKo in The Mikado was the other).  Performers had a difficult time at the first performances after Gilbert's death, particularly when saying lines like "He was a living man and now he is dead, and so my tears may flow unchidden."

History repeats itself.  Co-founder of the company, and the man at its heart for more than 60 years, Orva Hoskinson, died last week, at age 92, during a run of Patience, the show for which he is perhaps best known.  His famous depiction of Reginald Bunthorne, "the fleshly poet," was once compared by San Francisco Chronicle critic Robert Commanday to John Gielgud's Hamlet ("There was Gielgud's Hamlet, and there is Hoskinson's Bunthorne.")

Orva performed all of the tenor roles over his years with the company and long after he stopped performing, he directed many, many shows.  We are so fortunate that in 1975 they decided to film a production of Patience, in order to have a record of Orva's performance.

I had known Orva for a long time but was not close to him.  The best time I had with him was a 2 hour interview I did for the second Lamplighters history.  We were sitting alone in the house, he on one side of the room, me on the other.  There was a big Boston fern off to the side.  He had no animals.  There were no windows open.  Suddenly in the middle of our interview, the fern began to shake for no apparent reason. It shook for several seconds and then stopped. We assumed it was Gilbert deciding he wanted to be a part of the interview.

I last saw Orva in 2012 at the 60th anniversary of The Lamplighters, when he made a rare appearance on stage with an even rarer appearance with his co-founder, Ann Pool MacNab.

We went to see the current production of Patience today, meeting Char for lunch first. The company has continued to grow since the last time Orva played Bunthorne.  The costumes and sets are more opulent, but there are still hints of Orva on stage, and a bit of a tear formed watching the excellent Lawrence Ewing in the role today.

The production had been dedicated to Orva, but at the curtain speech, Ewing not only talked about Orva's death and what he had meant to the company, he also announced the death of John Vlahos, who had been the company president for more than 30 years, performed with the company for many years, and even met his wife in the company.  He was an all around good guy and I mourn his loss as well.
I last saw him a couple of months ago, at the Lamplighters Gala, at which he was honored (and surprised by the honor!).  His cancer at that point was quite advanced and he was shadow of his former self, but still with that smile that welcomed everyone in and that made him both a good attorney and a good representative for the Lamplighters for all those years.

I had a fun interaction with John and his wife and Ann MacNab and her husband,  The two couples were best friends and the had this silly plaster of Paris boat that one of them got at a Christmas party one year.  They passed that boat back and forth for years, hiding it in each other's house (or office) or having it sent in some weird way.  I don't know when the last exchange was or who has the boat now, but I was pleased to be the one to sneak the boat into John and Martha's house one time.

It was a big surprise to see Ann's husband Adrian, that 12 foot tall Welshman, in the audience today.  I thought I saw him come in before the show, but figured it couldn't be him because Ann wasn't with him.  She doesn't get around much any more -- he says her health is fine, but it just hurts too much to walk (I can identify!), but I hadn't seen him in several years and it was lovely to see him again, however briefly. 

Today was just a trip down memory lane...but then these days any trip to the Lamplighters ends up being a trip down memory lane.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Stealing

1. Last movie you saw in a theater?
LaLa Land.  I wanted to see at least one movie before the Golden Globes, but we had actually also seen Manchester Bay too.  I hope to get to see Lion before the Oscars.  I probably can't fit in more than one more movie by then.

2. What book are you reading?
Two of them right now.  One is Mary Tyler Moore's latest book about living with diabetes ("Growing Up Again")  I'm also reading "Cats, Dogs and Other Things that Poop in the Yard," a bunch of essays about people's pets, edited by my friend Debra DeAngelo, editor of one of our local newspapers, The Winters Express.

3. Favorite board game?
I haven't played board games in years, but I used to love Monopoly.

4. Favorite magazine?
I'm not a magazine person.

5. Favorite smells?
Fresh coffee, the ocean, baking bread, brewing coffee, puppy breath, and the heads of newborn babies.

6. Favorite sounds?
The ocean crashing against the shore, rain falling on the roof, a huge pipe organ

7. Worst feeling in the world?
Grief, loneliness

8. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?
"What time is it?"  (It's usually 3 a.m.) and then the second time, "can I snuggle under my quilt for awhile without the dogs knowing I'm awake?"

9. Favorite fast food place?
Jack in the Box

10. Future child’s name?
ROFL.  I'm 74 years old (as of next week) and think that 'future children' are out of the question, but I do like the names of the five I already have:  Jerilyn, Ned, Paul, Tom and David.

11. Finish this statement. “If I had lot of money I’d….?
Find the best way to help my sponsored kids around the world.

12. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
If she's in the mood, a Chihuahua.  Does that count?

13. Storms – cool or scary?
Way cool, as long as I'm safe inside.  I love thunder and lightning, love the rain.  I find the wind exciting, unless it's blowing trees down.  I might feel different if I lived in the midwest.

14. Favorite drink?
Ice water

15. Finish this statement, “If I had the time I would….”?
Actually, I am retired so I really have the time to do anything I want.  The better question would be "If I had the energy, I would...."

16. Do you eat the stems on broccoli?
If they are cut up.  Not in one big chunk.

17. If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice?
I am happy with my salt and pepper.  I earned these grey hairs.  I once tried to dye my hair auburn, back in the 1970s.  It looked purple.  I never tried again.

18. Name all the different cities/towns you’ve lived in?
All in California:  San Francisco for 18 years, four different places in Berkeley, a rented house in Albany (next door to Berkeley), Oakland, and then Davis, for the last 43-1/2 years.

19. Favorite sports to watch?
Equestrian sports at the Olympics, springboard diving, and if we talk of team sports, baseball (SF Giants fan)

20. One nice thing about the person who sent this to you?
Nobody edits these things!  I downloaded it from the web site myself.  I am a very nice person.

21. What’s under your bed?
Dust bunnies

22. Would you like to be born as yourself again?
Good lord, no.  I don't mind having been the person I have been, but once is enough.

23. Morning person, or night owl?
I used to be both, going to bed way after midnight and waking up at 5 or 6.  Now I'm neither.  More and more often I am going to sleep before midnight, and it takes me an hour or so before I feel human when I wake up in the morning.

24. Over easy, or sunny side up?
I used to like over easy, but lately I've been ordering sunny side up.

25. Favorite place to relax?
In my recliner, in front of the TV

26. Favorite pie?

27. Favorite ice cream flavor?
Butter pecan

28. Of all the people who play, how many of the posts do you usually read?
I try to read everyone's.  I don't always comment, but I at least read everyone who has posted by Sunday evening (if they post later, I often don't check back)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

Saturday 9: Love Yourself (2015)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Justin sings that he doesn't like to admit he's wrong. When did you most recently cop to a mistake? Oh lord, I do it all the time.  Walt is always quick to correct me when I get political ire not quite right.

2) He also complains that his girl doesn't like his friends. Who is someone that you've met recently and liked?
I don't often meet new people these days.  I think the last person I met whom I liked very much was Sandy, who shared a day with me at Logos--I met her more than a year ago.  I have met some women at the hospital, but haven't had a chance to get to know any of them, though they all seem very nice.

3) Justin first performed this song live on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Who is your favorite talk show host?
I don't watch afternoon talk shows any more, but when I did I always liked Ellen.  At night, I like Colbert

4) Young Mr. Bieber recently had his credit card rejected ... at a Subway Sandwich Shop. Think about your last trip to a fast food restaurant. Did you pay with cash or plastic or your phone?
It's been quite some time now but was probably a cheeseburger at Jack in the Box.  I always pay with cash.

Even though we're featuring a lack-of-love song, this is the last Saturday  9 before Valentine's Day and so this morning we shall focus on the upcoming holiday.

5) In Victorian England, it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine. Have you ever received an anonymous card from a secret admirer? No.

6) Retailers report that approximately 3% of pet owners buy Valentines for their furry friends. Have you ever purchased a gift for a pet on a special occasion?
Not really, except I might (if I think about it) buy turkey flavored dog food for them at Thanksgiving.

7) It was once believed that if a maiden ate a heavy meal before bed on February 13, her dreams that night would reveal the identity of the man she would eventually marry. Do you find that eating too close to bedtime disrupts your sleep?
I don't know My sleep is so weird,  don't know what affects it..

8) The postmaster in Verona, Italy, reports that Shakespeare's Juliet Capulet still receives love letters. Without looking it up, can you give us a quote from Romeo and Juliet?
Well, there is always "Romeo, Romeo, wherefor art thou, Romeo?"  or "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  I don't like Romeo and Juliet.  It makes me as angry as Grease.  Romeo is madly in love with Rosaline at the beginning of the play until he takes one look at Juliet and then forgets all about Rosaline and wants only Juliet.  She falls instantly in love with him and within two days they are married and both dead.  I believe Juliet is 14.  What does that teach young people?  (I don't like Grease because the message seems to be that you can only become popular and find love if you become a slut.)
9) Necco's Sweethearts -- those little candy hearts that say things like "Be Mine" -- are Valentine Day's top-selling confection. Sam never could stand eating these candies. Do you like them? I'm was never fond of them.  But they are sweet and bad for me, so of course if they were around I would eat them.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Thank a teacher

Ned's sister-in-law Lindsay, a teacher, wrote this on Facebook:  This week I've gotten a little bit of a pat on the back that helps bolster my resolve to carry on this important task. Several of my parents have sent me emails like "thank you for always being there for us" and "you go above and beyond for our student" and it feels good. Not gonna lie. It feels real good.

In response, our friend Suellyn (we met on a Viking cruise to Russia) wrote In thanks for the public education that I received, and in support of all those who teach in public schools .... and then listed a lot of her teachers.  Someone else said she could remember every one of her teachers.  I thought I'd travel back and see what I think about my teachers.

I don't remember the name of my kindergarten teacher, but I remember that I started school late...actually a year early.  I was so upset that my friend Stephen was going to school and I was not that they let me go into kindergarten early, and then I did so well, I was allowed to pass on to first grade with my class.   Remember Sister complimenting me on my curls, and I remember the big playhouse in the classroom.  That's all I remember of kindergarten!

In first grade I had Sister Mary St. Patrice and I don't remember a lot about her except that I have been grateful my whole life for her letting me write with my left and not forcing me to switch to the right hand.  I also remember learning to raise one finger if I had to pee and 2 fingers if things were going to be more serious!

Sister Mary Humbeline had second grade.  I remember her as being very pale and very thin.  Also very sweet.  We had a May Crown celebration each may where one child was chosen to crown a statue of Mary and others were chosen to be various members of the court.  I remember that she passed around a box and you picked out a folded piece of paper  She said that if something was written on it, we should bring it to her and she would read it for her.  But I had no trouble reading "queen" on my slip of paper!  I was the one who got to place the crown on Mary's head.

Sister Mary Bernardone was our teacher for both third and fifth grade.  She is still alive, in her 90s an I spoke with her on the phone a couple of months ago.  She was probably my favorite grammar school teacher, though I can't remember why now.

Sister Mary John Ett taught 4th grade.  I started having problems with math in this class.  For fun, sister had a stamp collection and we got to go through her stamps now and then.  I still feel guilty for stealing one that I particularly liked.  It was also Sister Mary John Ett who accused me of being a hypocrite in front of the whole class when she felt I had done something (which I had not...I had done other things but not that thing).  I didn't like her much.

On the other hand, Sister Mary Johnetta was a fun teacher who taught us in sixth grade.  I once confused her and John Ett on line and to my amazement I received an angry letter from her setting me straight.  She never answered my letter of apology.

I can't remember who we had for 7th and 8th grade.  But the teachers who had the biggest impact on my life were those I met in high school.  Sister Louise was my freshman homeroom teacher and I was thrilled to be able to have lunch with her at our 50th class reunion back in 2010.  She and Sister Anne, my typing teacher and best friend until her death in about 1995 were good friends.

Sister Benedicta was homeroom for sophomore year.  She also taught me Latin and algebra.  Or rather she tried to teach me algebra.  I was a terrible student.  She even took me for algebra 2 as a private student since I needed the class to get into college and my small school didn't offer it.  To this day I don't know what a logarithm is.  But she was fun, this little round older lady who could easily distracted.  If you asked her a question on something off the subject she would go on and on about that subject until the class was over  I think she eventually wised up to what we were doing and didn't let us get away with it.  But I got a solid foundation in Latin, which still helps me today, especially in Jeopardy.

Sister Mary William perhaps had the one of the biggest impacts on my life.  I don't think she was a homeroom teacher but she led the choir (to which I belonged) and she was the yearbook advisor.  At the end of my freshman year, she invited me to join the yearbook staff and I worked my way up to Editor in my senior year, learning a lot about writing and layout (and deadlines!).  I always wanted to stay in contact with her, but she never answered any of my letters.  She was the first teacher to whom I wrote a "thank you for being one of my more memorable teachers" letters.

Sister Mary Bernardone was the home ec teacher and I took a sewing class from her.  She was a gargantuan woman who joked that she checked the obituaries every morning to see if she was still alive.  She helped me make a dress and was very excited about how it was turning out until I screwed it up and then I think she was more disappointed than I was.  I wore it once for the fashion show and then never again.

Sister Colette was the biology teacher who was embarrassed by anything having to do with reproduction, so just skipped those chapters.  She was not cut out to be a teacher and should have been a nurse.  She taught us so poorly that anyone who wanted to go to college had to re-take biology the next year, taught by a different teacher.

It was rare for me to have a non-Sister teacher, but Mary Gavin was my French teacher for two years.  Strange woman, with bleach blonde marcelled hair, but she taught me to speak French and I loved her class.  She and I also shared a love of diagramming sentences (she was also my English teacher for a semester).  Years later, I had news of her death and the obituary said that she and her son died together and hinted that it might have been a murder-suicide.  Or maybe it was an auto accident.  in any event, it was a tragedy.  She had lost a son in the war and had written an emotional piece which we performed for a speech competition.  I had the lead role and my line, which I repeated over and over again was "Why?  Why MY son?"  Didn't realize at the time how that question would be appropriate for ME as well.

Sister Zoe.  Ahhh...Sister Zoe.  We were all terrified of her.  She was my homeroom teacher for my senior year and it seemed we were always at odds.  My whole opinion of her changed when I learned that the yearbooks were going to be late.  I had had zero help from anybody except my friend Anne, and the two of us were pretty much doing the whole thing by ourselves.  I was standing outside the classroom when I heard Zoe giving the bad news to my classmates and their angry reaction...and then the wonderful scolding she gave them, standing up for me.  I get teary-eyed today thinking about it.  Anne and I ended up hand delivering every Senior yearbook after graduation...sixty different students.

And of course there was Sister Anne, my typing teacher, who changed my life.  Because of her I almost entered the convent and because of her I decided not to enter the convent.  We kept in contact by letter wherever she was in the country and Jeri's middle name is Anne after her (though Walt insists it's after me).  When she was sent to the Daughter of Charity retirement community in Evanston, Indiana, she drove to St. Louis, where I was attending a meeting, so she could give me a tour of St. Louis and then take me back to the mother house to spend the week end. Turned out she was the brewer for the convent and it was very strange sitting in the living room of the guest house drinking beer with her!  I sent her a VHS tape showing her our house and the kids and dogs and it was one of the best things I did because she responded with her own videotape, which I treasure today.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How to Sublimate

So we all saw it...or probably most of us did.  Senator Elizabeth Warren stood in the Senate and attempted to read a letter about Jeff Sessions from Coretta Scott King, written when he was under consideration for a federal judgeship.  Following her letter, he was denied that post.  Warren felt that it was important to read it into the record during the discussion of Sessions becoming Secretary of State.

But Mitch McConnell objected and Warren was censured.  McConnell invoked the rarely used Senate Rule 19, stating that she had imputed the integrity of a fellow Senator and she was silenced for the rest of the discussion on Sessions' candidacy.

That made me furious.

But then this morning I woke up and discovered that Tom Udall, Sherrod Brown,  Bernie Sanders, and Jeff Markley, all Democratic senators, also read Mrs. King's letter into the record without censure or apparent complaint from anyone.  Yet Senator Warren is still forbidden to speak again on Session's candidacy.

King's letter was written in 1986 in opposition to Sessions' appointment as a federal judge in Alabama. In the letter, King criticized Sessions' record on voting rights, saying the Voting Rights Act "was, and still is, vitally important to the future of democracy in the United States."

"The irony of Mr. Sessions' nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods," King continued.

The Democratic lawmakers expressed outrage that King's letter could not be read.  McConnell said the other senators were not censured because they hadn't preceded the reading with comments against Sessions.

Undaunted, Warren went on Facebook and read the letter anyway (and probably got more people hearing it than she would have if she had read it within the Senate)
Rather than sit and stew all day, I put on a Grey's Anatomy marathon and made a pocket letter  I haven't done a pocket letter in a couple of months now and this particular one, with a music theme, was overdue, so I needed to finish it all in one day.

To do that, I had to first clean off the work station part of my desk. but then putting the pocket letter together actually went pretty smoothly, if it took several hours.

I had hoped to get this into the mail today, but then I realized that each of the pockets needed to have a little "gift" in it..  By the time I got all the pockets filled, the mailman had come and gone.  But it will go out tomorrow.  But it's done.

Just in time for Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow.  Talking about disheartened and demoralized.

It was the day our Blue Apron box arrives.  Always a fun voyage of discovery to open the box and find the list of 3 meals included inside the box.

They pack things so well with big blocks of ice that the meats come half frozen, so Wednesday is not the day to cook a Blue Apron meal.

Instead, I pulled out my wonderful new copper pan
The grandkids gave it to me for Christmas and I just love it.  Last night I made some great short ribs and then made a batch of Red Lobster biscuits.  Someone had told me that Costco sold a mix that tasted just like the real thing.  She was right...they were delicious, and the perfect complement to the short ribs.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Food, Glorious Food

I don't know how long I've been watching The Food Network, but probably since it began.  I always liked watching cooking shows on PBS, like fabulous Julia Child, funny Joyce Chen (you should hear Char talk about Chen's recipe for Peking duck...and I still think of "oil" as "oir," which is how she pronounced it), and Martin Yan, from whom I took two series of cooking classes here in Davis.  What fun he was to learn from!

I don't cook Chinese much any more, but there was a time when I could prepare a 7 course meal without hardly blinking (Tupperware is a necessity!)

But then the Food Network came along.  At first it was similar to the PBS shows, with chefs like Emeril Lagasse, who was there to show that fancy recipes weren't that difficult after all.  His signature "Bam!" was when he tossed his special spice mixture into a pot with panache.  The audience applauded.

The problem with Emeril, for a cook like me, is that while he made it all look simple, a look at the length of the "easy" steps was often daunting and I don't know that I ever made any of his recipes.

Rachael Ray was probably the first Food Network "star" who was relatable to the average home cook.  Her "Thirty Minute Meals" made cooking fancy stuff seem like child's play and I enjoyed her.  Unfortunately her fame propelled her into overkill, with a line of cookware, and even furniture, and now a daily show (is it still on?).  After a few years, I went into Rachael overkill and stopped watching her.  Entirely too perky!

But the thing about Rachael Ray is that she ushered in a new look in food programs for The Food Channel.  I don't know exactly how it started, but maybe it was the "Next Food Network Star," a competition program, like The Apprentice, where a bunch of home cooks fie to get their own cooking show.  The first winner(s) were a gay couple, The Hearty Boys, who did a show for two seasons about entertaining.  We even find losers on the Food Network in some capacities like Carla Hall (who was on Bravo's Top Chef, but lost).

The bizarre, yet lovable Guy Fieri was another early winner.  He has parlayed his win into a dominating presence on The Food Channel, with not only a cooking show but a game show (Grocery Games) and the ubiquitous Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, which I swear runs more often than Law and Order SVU.  Show after show of burgers and other comfort food in dives across the country.  Even I am often appalled by the amount of grease consumed in the average show, though there have been some places I've seen that have intrigued me (like a crab place in San Francisco that I will visit someday!

It's kind of embarrassing how many of the winners of Next Food Network Star I can remember.  Like the adorable Indian cook Aarti Sequeira; the saccharine Demaris Phillips, whose food I like but whose personality rubs me the wrong way; Jeff Mauro, the sandwich king; Eddie Jackson, the most recent winner; and Richard Blais, who moved from show host to show judge, as he often appears on shows like Chopped, or Cooks vs. Cons.

The Food Network still has chefs that I consider real "chefs," like Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa), Bobby Flay, and all those chefs on Iron Chef America.

It was a crossover when Ree Drumond, "The Pioneer Woman," whose food blog I followed for years was signed for a season on The Food Network, which has run into several seasons, now -- we've watched her kids grow up on television.

The network now even has make-over shows with chefs like Robert Irvine, who takes restaurants that are in danger of failing and helps them recover.

Then we began seeing celebrities doing cooking, supposedly from their homes. Chefs like Giada DiLaurentis (granddaughter of director Dino), Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time), Tiffany Thiessen (White Collar), Patricia Heaton, Marilu Henner, and my favorite, country singer Trisha Yearwood, perhaps the most relatable (for me), since she cooks like I do!  (I've been watching The Food Network for so long that I remember before Giada got married, when she was pregnant, after she gave birth, and now her divorce!)

The one show I have no desire to watch is a new show called Ginormous Food, where a guy eats enormous quantities of food.  Pizzas larger than truck tires, 10-patty hamburgers, taller almost than the guy who is eating it (with onion rings on each burger), enormous bowls of spaghetti etc.  It is done with a cheering audience  Some how in this day and age where hunger is so prominent, this show has zero appeal for me.

Duff Goldman became famous for making incredible cakes and had a regular program (Ace of Cakes), showcasing those cakes.  (He made Obama's inauguration cake, which was copied this year by Trump).  But he now has become a host of the Kids Baking Championship, where he helps and encourages young bakers to create amazing things.

That's the latest thing in the Food' competitions.  It boggles my mind watching these young bakers, some as young as 9 (Brianna will be 9 in April).  They make such incredible things and they have the lingo down pat.  They talk about "depth of favor" and "flavor profile," and their personal point of view.  I wouldn't know a depth of flavor if it bit me on the butt.  But these kids know the lingo and they know how to "plate" attractive foods.  They put me to shame!

The most amazing kids are those who appear in the show Chopped, where contestants are presented with baskets of ingredients which must be used in creating a dish (on Halloween, one basked contained eels, candied bats, and congealed blood!); another round on another show featured whelk snails and lemon bars.  An easier round was making an appetizer out of chicken soup, pork, squash and BBQ sauce.

The Food Network has come a long way from Emeril Lagasse, and now has a second cable channel as well, The Cooking Channel, for the shows that don't fit into the Food Network schedule.
I suspect it has done wonders for home cooks, and maybe more people are trying cooking at home than buying dinner out every night.

I should add parenthetically here that I had no idea how much I knew about The Food Network before I started writing this ... and I haven't even gotten to Cooks vs. Cons or Bakers vs. Fakers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Benny Crap

I had not had a completely sleepless night in years...maybe not in decades, but last night I simply could. not. sleep.  I finally dozed off at 7 and slept a couple of hours,  but it was going to be a weird day.

At 1 I had an appointment with the dental hygienist.   I found myself limp and nearly fell asleep while she was cleaning my teeth.  I was so sleepy that I had my cell phone in my pocket thinking of taking a selfie and never thought of it.  I was mesmerized by the posters of fruit on the ceiling, centering in on that ghastly durian featured so prominently.

But after the dentist, I went off to the Dollar Store to see about getting Valentine stuff for Benny and realized that this could be an expensive project.

I have so much crap for Benny.

I have Valentine's crap, St. Patrick's Day crap, misc crap including hats and sunglasses (they have enough that would please even Elton John), things to sit on, things to wear, party favors, a glass with hearts on it, floral arrangement, and then an assortment of things to send to the girls with their weekly letter.  

There was just a plethora of things from which to choose!

I had a great time and since it was the Dollar Store, it didn't cost nearly as much as I thought it was going to when I unloaded the cart at the check out counter.

Best thing was that it sparked my creative gene pushing that cart around the store, thinking ahead to upcoming holidays and things I could do between holidays.  I left a lot of things behind (too soon to shop for Easter) and raced home to see how I could dress Benny for Valentine's day, which will be the next letter for the girls.

(I also just realized I have started collecting a bunch of cheap used-once junk and...where will I keep it? I finally figured out a use for all of those Blue Apron boxes Walt has been piling up to use "sometime")

I liked what I did for the next Benny letter, though I didn't use everything I bought (a head start for next year!).

Who knows how long this is going to last, but now, in the infancy of the project.

Nicest thing, though, is that it has inspired a letter from Brianna.  She is writing so well now and crafted a really good letter.  She said that maybe she and "Gasper" could send me photos too.  I had to write to Tom to find out who Gasper is.

I loved her letter where she told me about a visit to an ostrich farm and then told me she had finished reading all the Harry Potter books and was now reading the Narnia books and then I had to laugh when she asked if I was reading a series or not.  Essentially she was saying "read any good books lately?"

This just feels like such a good project to have started!

The whole thing is because of my cousin Kathy.  When her firstborn grandson was born, he lived (and still does) in Iowa and she saw him rarely, but she wanted him to grow up having a relationship with her, so she started writing him letters.  The difference is she never heard whether he got or liked the letters at all.  Every time I see a photo of her grandson on Facebook and especially his sister, who was born shortly before Kathy died, it makes me very sad for what she has missed.

Brianna and Lacie won't forget who I am!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Oh, How I Wish....

How I wish I should show you what I've been working on all day today.  Back when Benny entered my life, it was through the inspiration of my friend Claire, who had been doing a similar thing for a young friend of hers.  She showed me a couple of pictures she had created and one struck me as something I really wanted to try.

It won't be for a couple of weeks yet, since next week will be Valentine's day for Benny and the picture I made today will probably be the next week, at which time I'll print it here.

It involved posing Benny, which turned out to be easier than I thought for this particular scene.  But then I had to eliminate the background, substitute a different background and add other touches from pictures I found on Google images.

I think all together it probably took me 3 hours to make this picture but I am so pleased with how it came out.  I can hardly wait to show you!

Walt and I went to this concert last night.  It was a fund raiser for Citizens who Care for the Elderly, an organization for which Walt has been on the board for many years.

This is the 25th year that CWC has put on a concert to raise money for the organization.  When it first began a group of wonderful, talented local singers and dancers put on a show which featured the work of a composers like Noel Coward, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Hoagy Carmichael, etc.  Or the music of music icons like Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, etc.  It was all done to the always interesting, always entertaining background of each song written and read by MC and performer Stephen Peithman, while the performers -- 3 tables of 2 each -- waited until their time to perform.

The concert was wildly successful.  All the performers were probably friends of nearly everyone in the audience, they had been performing in local musical for years and the show was always a sell-out.  In the early days, they brought groups of people from places like Atria to come and see the show.  It was CWC's biggest fundraiser of the year.

But over the years, the group of performers changed.  People dropped out and were replaced, a couple of people died  In fact, the guy who was in charge of it every year since the beginning died and Walt took over that job.

Then three years ago, Stephen's father was 100 years old and having health problems.  Stephen did not think he would be able to put in the time necessary to write, rehearse and perform the show. Some other arrangement had to be made, since this was, as I said, the group's biggest fund raiser.  And remember that for all those years, all of these talented folks donated their time and energy for CWC.  Could they find another group of performers willing to donate their time to put on a show?

Somebody knew somebody who knew people who liked to perform and they put on a different kind of show.  It was entertaining, but was nowhere near what we had seen from the core group for so many years. At least one of the members of the original group came to that concert and liked it.  She said it was time for new blood and that she, herself, the oldest in the group was ready to retire (she died a year or so later).  The old faithful audience was getting older and many were dying and it was time to find something that would appeal to a younger crowd.

The new group who performed liked what they did and agreed to do it again the following year.  By this, the third year, it had become accepted that they would do the show.  Sadly, the audience is not coming out like they used to and ticket sales are down, but they do a decent job and the end result is enjoyable.

This year's theme was advertised as kind of a history of rock and roll, but with songs like "Summertime" and "I could have danced all night" it was more ballads of the 50s and 60s along with rock numbers.  I did like the music.

They did a decent job, but the show desperately needed an impartial director, it definitely needed more rehearsal with the sound system, since the pre-recorded music in too many instances covered up the singers.  The MC, who was fun and did a good job of covering up when goofs occurred, could not read his notes all the time because the font was too small.  Now, this was the second performance they had given.  They had done a show the night before too, and wouldn't the logical thing be to re-run the script in a larger font??

I also had some serious critiques of a couple of people's choice of costume for various numbers, but I am not writing a review, so I will not go into detail here.

The most fun number was when a little girl who looked to be about 5 years old, came out on stage by herself and sang "This land is your land," being joined by a chorus after she finished the first run through of the song. She was just adorable, but her name does not appear in the program and nobody introduced her or told how old she was.  (Since this show wasn't being reviewed, it doesn't really matter, I guess, but it's too bad the audience didn't know who she was.)

The group gave it their all and I think the audience had a good time.  We don't know what the ticket sales were until all the receipts are counted, but whether this was the last concert of this sort is unknown.  Maybe 25 years is the right year to go out on.  But that leaves CWC in search of another fund raiser!

After the concert, we went back to Sushi Unlimited.  It was David's 45th birthday and it was time for Japanese again.  I chose tempura this time instead of sushi.  And we drank a toast to Dave.  Now we are free and clear until April and Paul's anniversary, followed by May and Dave's.  We have weird calendars.

Friday, February 3, 2017

No Logos Today

My first Thursday without Logos.  Whatever would I do with myself?  I know.  The very thing.  Walt and I went to Costco.

Ever since I became a Compassion sponsor, I feel guilty whenever I go to Costco.

This is excess in the extreme, each aisle filled with large sized everything. I think of my kids living in places where this would be unimaginable.  But I shop anyway.

You never know when you're going to find something new and interesting.   There were lots of samples today but these were the best

There were four different flavors but I liked these the best, so we bought a bag.  However, I decided to pass on these.

We got away for less than I usually spend, which was nice.  I was telling Walt that when I go to Costco now, I have to factor in Blue Apron dinners and how much space there is in the refrigerator and freezer, neither of which hold as much as our old one did, so I can't get carried away with stuff to freeze.

We left Costco and I dropped Walt off at home, took a package to the post office and delivered my mother's laundry to her.  She is now doing weird things with her laundry and mixing up the hamper with the garbage can...and sometimes the odd bag lying around her bedroom.  Whatever was in with the undies this time, dissolved in my washer and left a weird substance everywhere in the dryer.  I knew it was hopeless, but I tried to explain to her the importance of putting only underwear in her hamper.  She was very confused and didn't have a clue what I was talking about but she could see I was upset and she said she would try to remember.  I know I have to change the way I do her laundry now.

We sat and looked at each other for an hour before I left.  I keep trying to find very simple topics to talk with her about, but we just talk about the same things over and over again an in between, I start to doze off.  I wish I could find something to say to her or do with her to enrich her day, but I have not been able to find that elusive thing.  Mostly we talk about how she knows she's supposed to be doing something, but doesn't know what and do I ever feel that way?

I came home and took a nap; Walt went down to the pub where he has gone for a beer every Thursday while I'm working, just for old times sake.  He also stopped in Logos to see how things were going and met several friends there.

Stocking up for the next four years

Thursday, February 2, 2017


The politics in India have changed and it appears that by the middle of next month Compassion International will have to end its sponsorship programs in that country.  I sponsor two children there.  

I began sponsoring Venkanna since June of 2014.  He is 14 and is in 8th grade.  He was scheduled to complete the program in 2025.  He lives northwest of Vijaywada in the state of Andhra Pradesh.  In the area where he lives, there are no water or electricity services and part of the Compassion program is to teach the children about basic hygiene.

His father is a farmer and he has an older sister (22) and a brother whose age I don't know.  He is one of my better letter writers.  He writes in English and unlike some of the other children who seem to write in standard phrases, he always gives me information about his house, his school, his activities and, when there are local celebrations, he lets me know about the holiday and how they celebrated (I spend a lot of time on the internet checking out Indian holidays)

Though I care about him and write to him frequently, I don't feel as close to him as I do to Anjali, who was the very first child I sponsored through Compassion in 2009.  I chose her because she was kind of a chubby kid and I remember how I felt as a chubby kid and thought perhaps she would not be easily selected by others.

She has grown into a beautiful young lady and she writes more often than any of my other kids, and much longer than any other of the children.  She lives with both her father and her mother and has two siblings.  She lives on the plains of Nandyal, in the south of India and is now 12 years old

In her first letter, she could barely write in English.  She wrote this and then there was a letter written by someone from Compassion.

Now, 8 years later, she writes her own long newsy letters in English.  This is the close of the last letter I will receive from her.

I feel so close to her and it is breaking my heart to know that I will not be able to contact her again, or even to send her an end-of-sponsorship gift.  I will miss the unique way she writes her r's.

This is how Compassion explains the problem:
For 48 years, Compassion has operated in India, helping over a quarter of a million children break the cycle of poverty.

The situation that has forced us to leave India actually began back in 2011, when the Indian government made significant changes to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).  FCRA regulates nongovernmental charitable organizations’ reception of foreign funds into the country. These revisions allow the government to restrict charitable organizations whose purpose differs from India’s political ideology. This means the Indian government can restrict Christian charitable organizations’ activity if they feel it threatens their nationalistic interest.
Compassion only works through local church partners. In each of the 26 countries in which we work, we make needed adjustments to our programs to ensure we always comply with the local laws. In India, that has meant we have worked within the confines of Indian law to provide our Child Sponsorship, Child Survival and Leadership Development programs through existing church partners that possess a valid license to receive foreign aid. Last year, in February 2016, the Indian government issued an order against Compassion requiring prior clearance from the government before funds could be transferred to all our partners in India. We have never been offered an explanation for why this order was issued. We do know that Compassion is not alone in facing this challenge. In the last two years, 11,319 other nongovernmental charitable organizations have lost their licenses.
I don't completely understand it all, but Compassion has exhausted every avenue they can for the past several months, in vain.  Most of their centers in India have had to close and they expect they will all close by the middle of March.  In all honesty, I wont miss Venkanna all that much, but I am heartbroken to think of losing Anjali.  I was looking forward to following her into adulthood.  

Compassion has not used any of the monthly payments I have sent to each of the two kids so when/if this becomes final I can use the funds for 10 months of sponsorship for two more kids, which I probably will do.  But with as many kids as I sponsor, I don't think there will ever be another child with whom I feel the closeness I do to Anjali.  She was the first and only during the early years.